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Cass – Just Cass.

My Journey With Mental Illness

Unfortunate Truth About The Day Program

I’ve been wanting to write about this for days, but it’s still raw and hard to express my emotions surrounding it.

So, I started the day program I was offered. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place.

I don’t even know where to start. I could literally “teach the program myself” (feedback from group leaders, not my own words). Several times I have been asked to explain my rationale to the group using DBT and CBT concepts because they are the core of the program. So, to begin with, I already know the material they’re going to teach me. I understand it, and can even use it to help others. But sometimes, the skills don’t work for me. I tried to tell this to the psychiatrist managing my case.

The psychiatrist pretty much refuses to change any of my medications or dosages (which was her job…?) because I’m on such a complex cocktail.

Soon, the issue of marijuana came up with the psychiatrist. I had no reason to lie, so I mentioned I’d been self-medicating for a while because it’s the only thing that actually seems to calm me down and help me focus.

And that was all I needed to say. Now, all my issues, new and old, as far as this psychiatrist is concerned, can be traced back to pot. She asked me to cut back during the program and see how I feel. I agreed; not that anything I said mattered after this point.

I continued in the day program for almost 2 weeks. During this period, I had to leave early several times due to anxiety, and on one occasion I got so distressed that I started to just, shut down again. I fell asleep in the group.

So, naturally the psychiatrist wanted to see me after this. I told her what happened and received this response: “But, you had to be relaxed if you fell asleep, right? Relaxed is a good thing!”

No, Doc, with all due respect, I basically fell unconscious because internally I was freaking the hell out, and couldn’t handle it.

“Well, clinically, besides referring you to an addictions specialist, there’s not much I can do for you.”

Quite possibly the most triggering thing I have heard in a while. Essentially, I’m a lost cause because I self-medicate because NOTHING ELSE WORKS, and NO PROFESSIONAL IS WILLING TO LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY I NEED HELP, because of their own personal bias against marijuana.

I have mentioned several times that my family doctor is aware of my situation, and that I have an appointment with a specialist regarding my marijuana use. Apparently this meant nothing to them, as they continued to insist that weed MUST be the issue.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to be right.

I’m saying I feel like every professional refuses to give me the time of day because they dismiss me as an addict. What they don’t realize is how much worse I’d be if I weren’t able to self-medicate. Maybe that’s the problem.

My weed use may be a crutch; yes, I agree. But it’s the only one I’ve got right now when the medications and the skills don’t work. I’m more than happy to give up marijuana in favor of some kind of treatment that will help as much with my struggles.

I’m just, so tired of being dismissed; I’m worth more than that.

 

 

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Voices, ER Visit, Follow-up, and a Confession.

Let’s preface with the confession:

I have been self-medicating with marijuana for a long time. In the short term, it reduces my anxiety, and helps me focus. Up until now, I felt educated enough to self-medicate. However, I am aware there is MUCH more to learn and consider.

So anyway.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been having suicidal thoughts, and eventually started hearing voices. After a few days of the auditory delusions, I broke down and went to Emergency with desperate hopes they’d have some sort of help. I went to a hospital further than the one closest to my home, because I knew at the closer one I could end up having to see my previous psychiatrist who, long story short, I did not mesh well with (mainly because she’s robotic and extremely triggering for me.) I reluctantly packed myself a bag, preparing to be kept a few days.

My sister took me to the hospital, and after some technical issues and a little waiting, I got to see a crisis worker. The crisis worker assessed my situation and basically ASKED ME if I would like to be kept for assessment. — (Insert sarcasm shades) Like, no, I just dropped in to let you know I’m hearing things and wanting to harm myself, no biggie.

So, I was taken to a freezing cold room with a bed and a chair. My sister was allowed to stay with me. At this point I was just shutting down from having to repeat my issues to the triage nurses and workers, so I fell asleep while waiting for the psychiatrist. A few hours later, I wake up to a psychiatrist at the end of my bed, ready to ask me ALL the questions. I went over it again with him, and as soon as I mentioned that I have been self-medicating with marijuana, it was as though he stopped listening to me. He made no mention, even, of how dangerous it was for me to be stopping and starting my medication, just that marijuana must be the cause of all my problems.

At this point, the psychiatrist realizes on my record that I have seen (robotic psychiatrist that I am very triggered by), and asks “Oh, (robotic psychiatrist) actually works here at the hospital, would you like to see them?”

OH JOY. This is why I avoided the hospital near my home. But, crisis averted; I assertively told him I would not like to see that psychiatrist.

So then he offered to refer me to their day program. I went into Emergency with suicidal thoughts and auditory hallucinations, and I was discharged a few hours later considerably invalidated, with the reassurance of, “the day program co-ordinator will follow up with you probably in a couple weeks.” Oh, and a script for a low dose of seroquel as needed for sleep. — That’s the help I got. So I came home and self-medicated until I felt numb.

Since then, I have done some (more) research on marijuana and its usefulness versus adverse side effects and determined, it was time to consult a professional, one who wouldn’t simply dismiss me as a pothead.

A day or two later, a voicemail from my new family doctor informs me that my doctor would like to see me regarding my recent ER visit. I thought, hm, she’s been rather non-judgmental, and maybe she’ll have some more to offer than the day program did.

Today, I saw both saw my doctor, and heard from the coordinator of the day program.

The coordinator set me up for their three week intensive outpatient day program. I had to be selective about my start date though, in order to avoid (robotic psychiatrist who I am greatly triggered by,) so I’ll start the third week into September. It will be M-F, 9-2 with occasional check-ins with a psychiatrist.

When I saw my doctor, I explained everything that has been happening. I left feeling heard, understood, validated, and .like I had some professional help in my corner. I told her I no longer qualified to be managing marijuana as a medication for myself, so I was referred to a specialist in medical marijuana who will help me, be it with finding and understanding what I need to be using, or understanding how to quit safely if it’s not a good idea for me. I explained that I was weary about the day program because of (robot psychiatrist)’s involvement, so I was referred to another psychiatrist in case that doesn’t pan out. My doctor advised I start taking the seroquel daily, and increased my clonazepam dose to deal with the excessive anxiety until I can get started with the day program and other supports. My doctor also told me I could visit their office at any time to see them, even if there’s no medical advice to offer, but just to vent.

If anyone has any insight on the medical marijuana issue, or anything to say really, feel free to comment. 

So now, I wait.

Amongst this, I am reconsidering my enrollment in school for this semester, which is naturally, for me, associated with negative thinking patterns and self-disgust. However, I need to consider the fact that I may not be as successful in school with so much going on right now. Luckily, I have a (little) time to figure out what I want to do in that aspect.

The next month or two are definitely going to be interesting.

Update and New Website(!!!)

I’ve been quite busy lately.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m still either working from home, doing school from home, or maintaining my home – which consumes a lot of my time.

However, despite advancing in some areas, I am still struggling greatly with agoraphobia, and now, with intrusive thoughts.

I mean, I’ve had intrusive thoughts before, but it never lasted more than a day or so. I’ve been battling this for about a week now, constantly. I feel like I haven’t had a break and it’s making me feel absolutely bonkers.

HOWEVER(!!!)

I have managed, in my spare time, to pick up a .com and start writing about mental health issues from an educational perspective as opposed to a personal perspective. I will still be running this personal blog, but I will also be running CassTalksMentalHealth.com

Feel free to check it out, and share it around. I haven’t decided exactly what form I’ll be putting the education in – I just have so many ideas; I want to post DBT skills tips on a scheduled basis (how often?), I want to do my own articles (how often, or sporadic?) and I want to present tips + tricks I’ve learned along the way. So it’ll be nice to see how it all comes together.

Wish me luck!

 

 

A Work in Progress.

So, tonight I’m reflecting on where I am in my recovery.

The first thing that comes to mind, is that my face is mostly clear all the time now. I’ve reduced picking to a minimum, and this is a huge feat for me.

I still struggle with social anxiety, but I’m so infinitely much more comfortable in my own skin. I’m truly learning the meaning of self love – most days.

I definitely still tackle severe mood swings, but I find I have skills under my belt to help me through certain unjustified emotions.

I’m either working from home, doing my school program from home, and/or maintaining my home on a daily basis. I would say that to be able to juggle all of those things right now, is pretty impressive.

However.

Agoraphobia seems to be kicking my ass. I don’t want to leave my house and when I do I immediately regret it and want to go home. I can’t comfortably spend more than an hour out of my home.

It’s to the point of terror and break downs.

So while I’ve made some great strides in certain areas, I still struggle in some, even more so now than before. But it’s a work in progress; I’ll get there.

(Small) Parts in the Clouds

I’m getting to a point where I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this bout of depression, even if it is dim and flickering.

I have my bad days, my very very bad days, and then… for example the last two, I have good days.

I found out I am ineligible for funding for school until I self-fund one semester. Unfortunately, I am already out the money for the courses I registered for, so it will be this semester whether I like it or not, whether I can afford it or not.

So this week I will be starting two online courses – I’m optimistic and excited despite the blow to the bank.

I have been managing bad fibromyalgia pain, though it seems to be easing off the last couple days; maybe that’s why they’ve been good days.

I am juggling a lot of different mental strains. And up until now I wasn’t doing so well.

But I’m starting to manage. So here’s to me.

Keep on truckin’.

I’m Back.

I need to write. I need to get out of my head and on to the page, even if just for a little bit. So here’s an update:

I moved out! Did I tell y’all that?! I feel like an adult. Kind of. I’m getting a bunch of support from family and friends, but I’m feeling independent and it’s feeling healthy for me.

School semester was a washout – due to a plethora of factors ranging from raging agoraphobia to discrimination and downright stupidity. As a result, not only will I not be getting the credit for the courses, I will be receiving a failing grade; on my flawless transcript. This is a big blow to my self confidence but I refuse to be knocked down. I will work with what I have, so:

Funding approval pending (*crosses fingers*), I’m switching to a different college for online only instruction for my next courses, or until I feel able to attend classes in person. I’ve already been accepted to the program.

I’m back to waiting to hear on funding.

I HATE waiting.

I haven’t been as in touch with my skills as I’d like to be, so I’ve gone back to basics and did a DBT Goal setting page for the next month or so. I feel like I have a plan to tackle the anxiety I can feel inevitably building as the wait drags on.

We’ll see how it goes.

 

Lost.

I found out today that my doctor is retiring. 

She’s been my doctor all my life; liking her and knowing my family trusted her, it still took me almost 2 decades to start to feel comfortable talking to her.

Once I did, slowly, together we worked on helping me get to the place I’m at today, which is significantly better than where I was to begin with, and I contribute a lot of that progression to her guidance and care.

And now she’s just…leaving.

I feel overwhelmingly alone, lost, and scared.

I can rationalize and even be happy for her – I understand it’s part of life, but I’m struggling to wrap my mind around the idea of trying to trust another individual.

It feels like a big old roadblock right at the peak of my rebuilding. I’ve come so far and done so well, only to have a major support torn out from under me.

I realize that I have other supports – my loving family, caring boyfriend, and encouraging friends… but having a medical professional in my corner really helped, and I was just getting happy and comfortable with the idea of her being someone I could completely confide in.

The backup doctor she’s blanket-suggesting to her patients is useless to me.

I can’t help but feel somewhat abandoned, even though I know that’s not the case.

I don’t like feeling desperate.

Everything is Happening at Once and I’m Overwhelmed lalalala.

Guys. 

I’m doing better than I was.

I’m not in the same deep dark pit that I was in, I don’t think. 

At least not every day. So it’s improving.

I’ve got school going. 3 courses. The 2 online have started and are a week in – they look to be tedious but doable. It’s going to be a lot of work but they’re both classes I’m very interested in so it’ll hopefully hold my attention. 

The third class starts tomorrow on campus and I found out that it’s with an instructor that I’ve had prior to now, and I loved his teaching style and his charisma, so it makes me really excited for the course. So all systems are go with school.

Now, I’ve picked up a part time job doing outbound calls from home for a research firm. It’s 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, and I can split the shift if I want. So, it’s really convenient for me with all my struggles. Even still, it’s nearly impossible some days and takes a pep talk from the whole family and the boyfriend to get me logged on, and I have to drag myself through it. But I’m doing it for now. I’m hoping to get a doctors’ note and request the ability to break my shift up even more. If I could work on my own time with an assigned number of hours to get in, it’d be ideal. I have trouble sitting for long periods of time. I need to get up and walk away or I get agitated. So that’s a thing – I’m working. (What?)

DBT and CBT are going steady; while my commitment remains in tact, the dedication has been slacking; partly due to anxiety and avoidance, and partly due to lack of time. I need to really dedicate more time and effort to skills application and practice. But I want to comment that I’ve grown a lot in the way of avoidance. I’m making phone calls! Appointments!

I’m also attending physiotherapy 3 times a week. Twice I see a chiropractor, and once I get a massage. I got my first ‘adjustment’ recently – terrifying! But it seems to be helping. I want to reiterate, though: terrifying. Even after the first time. Letting someone ‘adjust’ you (also read: crack you all over) takes a lot of trust and is quite anxiety inducing.  

Aaaaand to mix it all up a little, we’re moving in the next couple months, which adds all kinds of stress and complications of its own, especially since we don’t know where we’re going yet.

I think anyone with the same amount of life events on their plate as me would be under stress. 

I have not yet buckled.

I think I’m doing this life-ing thing.

Kind of.

This school girl is DBTing it up

I’ve been struggling. Really, really struggling. To an extent that I can’t even express to those closest to me, or even to myself if I’m being completely honest. I’m scared and I’m in a really dark place, but I’m clinging with white knuckles to sanity and stability and normalcy and I’m just not letting go. 

Let’s not mention that it’s tense enough around the home without my extra… (One of my goals is to move away from self depreciating talk, so let’s rephrase my original thoughts here) challenges to add to the pile, so I feel like a burden around a place that’s already struggling greatly. I don’t want to pull down the ones I love. While I know they don’t see it that way, it’s difficult for me not to.

I have absolutely THROWN myself into DBT and CBT with everything I’ve got. We’re talking textbooks and notebooks and reminders all over the place. I am trying my best to make the skills an integral part of my life; and I must say, they’re working. They’re not necessarily making everything better, and luckily I didn’t come into it with that expectation, because that’s not what they’re supposed to do. They’re doing EXACTLY what they’re supposed to do: guide me away from making things worse for myself. 

Today, registration opened up for classes. YIPPEE! Except, my months-long, well thought out plan was blown to smithereens when I realized the college made literally last minute changes to the classes availability. So naturally, cue meltdown. But I worked through it with some skills and the assistance of my boyfriend, who is also learning the DBT skills along side me, and has become something like a coach. I’m incredibly grateful to have him to turn to during these times.

So the situation was (somewhat) resolved, for this semester, anyway. I’ll be taking one different course than I had expected, and a variant of another that I had planned to take. It looks like it’ll actually be an easier course load, but I’m dealing with a lot of anxiety over the fact that this what not what I had planned, and now I have future implications to deal with. However, I have confidence that I have skills that will help me get through the obstacles in my future. So I am a school girl again, and can’t wait to start classes in September. I’ve already ordered my books so I can get a jump start on readings. (Nerd much?)

I just feel like, I can’t say enough about how dark of a place my head keeps going to these days. Things are really stressful and it’s like I just can’t handle it so my brain is sending me to this deep dark, isolative depressive space that I don’t want to be in. I can’t get across how scared I am of just slipping into this space. I’m doing everything I can to fight against it but some days, it’s nearly impossible. My plan is to use the hell out of my skills until my head gets the idea that I will not allow myself to sink into its pit of despair and misery. I am stronger than that. 

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